In late March 2016, artists of Warrior Studios, a South London collective, entered the warehouse space of Ovada to embark on a month-long experiment in collaborative activity called What Is Done Cannot Be Undone.

Now we are proposing a representation at Five Years of the interpretation of the original proposal for this residency: an installation referring to Kurt Schwitters’ Hannover Merzbau; and since it was likened by him to a 3D cubist painting, it was to be seen partly as a response to perception of space encapsulated in the changing physics and geometry of the first two decades of the 20th C.
Of course, such interconnections between art and science are contested, and this interpretation of the Merzbau was contested amongst ourselves. Hans Ulrich Obrist said that collaboration is the answer, but then asked, what is the question. We were also asking that question…

This project was to be an ambitious large-scaled installation, continuing Schwitters’ investigation into the nature of creativity, authorship, and space, and it was to lay bare the relationships and processes of our experimental, non-hierarchical, co-operative, open and social approach to thinking, talking about and making art. It was to be a 3D exquisite corpse, branching out and evolving freely from the central column referring to Schwitters’ Cathedral of Erotic Misery.
The physical space of OVADA’s warehouse, in a post-internet world, would house an investigation into the collective mind, a collaged manifestation of virtual space. As such, we thought it important that, as well as allowing public access throughout the month, the process would exist on-line via a 24/7 live feed and a blog.
So we are proposing a presentation of the project using the extensive video and still material we accumulated, including a time-lapse film, Canary and drone video and interviews with the artists about their take on collaboration, the concept and the effect the project has had on their practice.

The title originally referred only to our one rule, that whatever was done by the other artists could not be undone, but this gave rise to debate about what constituted undoing. However, as the installation progressed, in keeping with the title, a line from Macbeth, it became more like a stage set with actors arriving and departing from different entrances. So there was also discussion about the collaborative nature of theatre, which changed its direction to a more improvised form.
There was in the end some performance, some relating directly to Schwitters, but mostly improvised with some sound and light. There is potential for including some of this in the event proposed.

Images: 1. What Is Done Cannot Be Undone, Images 1-3; 2. From Jouffret’s Elementary Treatise on the Geometry of Four Dimensions
Materials: Projectors (can be supplied by us); Wall(s) or screen(s)

Saturday 19 May 2018
What Is Done Cannot Be Undone:
Phil Dobson, Duncan McAfee (Warrior Studios)